International Symposium “Children out-of-Place and Human Rights” in Memory of Judith Ennew († 4. October 2013)

The international symposium, which was held at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany on October 27 and 28, 2014 was organized by the MA Childhood Studies and Children’s Rights (MACR) and the European Network of Masters in Children’s Rights in cooperation with the Institute for International Studies in Childhood and Youth at INA gGmbH, with the invaluable help of a group of very engaged MACR students.

The reason behind holding the symposium was that the British anthropologist Judith Ennew passed away unexpectedly and much too early about one year ago, in the fall of 2013. Her untiring work as researcher and promoter of children’s rights was to be praised and the aim was to uphold her spirit also for future generations of children’s rights scholars, advocates and researchers.

The symposium fulfilled this aim. Judith’s work was remembered and praised by many of her friends and colleagues from all over the world she worked with closely during her lifetime (by far not all her friends and colleagues were able to come and attend the symposium). Presentations and discussions held were very personal and partly, due to the circumstance in which the symposium was held, also quite emotional. The organisers were delighted that amongst the approx. 100 participants of the event, about half were students and young researchers from different child rights studies in European countries.

Judith Ennew was active in many, if not all continents of the world and has made important contributions to the understanding of the situation in particular of socially disadvantaged, excluded as well as marginalized children and the human rights practice towards them.

Her last major activity was as director of the Malaysia based NGO „Knowing Children“, where she showed and lived best practice on bringing together interdisciplinary, ethically legitimated research with practical commitment for children’s rights.

After the very close friends of Judith and initiators of the symposium, Brian Milne, Antonella Invernizzi und Manfred Liebelopened the symposium, first, her most recent work at ‘Knowing Children’ was presented- unfortunately the continued existence of the NGO is not secured. If you are interested in contributing to upholding the NGO and the good work, please contact Jasmin Lim at: admin@knowingchildren.org

After these introductory presentations, the director of the Instituto de Formación para Educadores de Jóvenes, Adolescentes y Ninos Trabajadores de América Latina (IFEJANT), Alejandro Cussianovich, held a very touching speech on the concept of “unwritten rights” which Judith had introduced during her lifetime- the rights not legally guaranteed or written down. The speech evoked a lively discussion which was followed by a very clear presentation on ethical aspects in children’s rights research by Sharon Bessel (AustralianNationalUniversity).

In order to give young researchers a forum during the symposium, graduates of the MACR were invited to present and discuss their excellent MA theses. Furthermore themes such as sexual exploitation of children (Antonella Invernizzi), survival strategies of street children and orphans (Michael Bourdillon), as well as the international community viewing and dealing with children’s and human rights separately and the difficulties with this (Nigel Cantwell) were discussed. The problem of finding and applying appropriate monitoring tools for the implementation of children’s rights (Per Miljeteig) were also presented. You can view the complete program on the Flyer.

We would like to thank our sponsors, without whom the realization of the symposium wouldn’t have been possible: Oak Foundation, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit; World Vision Deutschalnd e.V.; Ernst-Reuter-Gesellschaft der Freunde und Förderer der FU Berlin.

Please also see our picture gallery and individually filmed and recorded interventions.